Shilpa Gupta: For, in your tongue, I cannot hide (5 stars)

Shilpa Gupta: For, in your tongue, I cannot hide

courtesy Edinburgh Art Festival / photo: Johnny Barrington

Powerful exhibition that creates a platform for imprisoned poets' voices

A country could be said to be in a bad way when it starts putting poets in jail. For this installation, Mumbai-based Shilpa Gupta brings together the words of 100 poets who have been imprisoned for their writing or beliefs, from the 8th century to the present day.

In the darkened space of the Fire Station, 100 rusted metal rods each spear a page on which a few lines of verse are written. The same lines spoken in a variety of languages form a sound installation for the100 voices; a speaker suspended above each rod. 'Tomorrow, maybe they will kill us,' whispers a voice in your ear, before being echoed and joined by other voices from around the room.

Immense care and attention has been applied to choosing the lines and orchestrating the voices, resulting in a work that is more than the sum of its parts. Despite these writers very different stories – from radicals and dissidents to Nobel Prize winners – there are common themes of love, home, freedom and equality to be found in their writing.

The individual microphones evoke the isolation of prison. Here they come together, from dark corners, in a powerful chorus of witness. These are voices which others tried but now failed to silence; here, they are given voice again to speak their unique perspectives in the world.

The Fire Station at Edinburgh College of Art, until 26 Aug, free.

Shilpa Gupta: For, in your tongue I cannot hide

  • 5 stars

Shilpa Gupta’s practice encompasses a wide range of media, and demonstrates a deep engagement with the power of language, the written word, and the role of the individual and the ways in which we are defined in relation to history, globalisation, security, censorship and the nation state. In this new work the artist draws…

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